Easy Cocoa Cake Cupcakes

The perfect recipe for easy, rich, and sweet chocolate cupcakes made with simple ingredients and without eggs, milk, or butter. 

In November of 2018, we were blessed to celebrate my Uncle Joe’s (Joseph Francis Borzelleca) birthday in Staunton, Virginia. His daughter, Terri, said it’s WJFB 88.1….mimicking radio station lingo to represent her father’s 88th year and one month birthday (clever, huh?)! Uncle Joe is my father’s older brother by 13 months. My father is not with us physically, but he sure is in spirit.

When I asked my Uncle Joe how it felt to be “88.1”? He said, “I’m grateful for every day I get up after my 88th birthday!”. Now that is the attitude we should all have! He is a brilliant toxicologist and pharmacologist, and still consults to this day. He cares for his wife, my Aunt Mary, who suffers from dementia, and they have raised six children, have seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter and another on the way! Uncle Joe is the type of person that listens to you intently, cares deeply about you and those who surround you, is versed about every topic you could image, and engages you in a way that makes you feel like a million dollars! Did I mention he’s an incredible baker?

I can’t compete with his delectable cakes, so I brought my tried and true cocoa cake that never lets me down: My Grandmom Madeline’s cocoa cake with chocolate cocoa frosting!

When my Grandpop Pete (my father and Uncle Joe’s father) became ill with a heart condition back in the early 1960s, he had to watch his cholesterol So, my Grandmom Madeline found a way to make a chocolate cake without milk, butter or eggs!

Yes, you read this correctly! I promise you this cake will be your one and only chocolate cake from here on out. And although I will give you the recipe for an amazing cocoa butter icing (which I know defeats the cholesterol benefit), you can always just sprinkle powdered sugar over the cake like my Grandmom did and it will taste fantastic! You don’t even need a hand or stand mixer for this.

I love making cupcakes with lots of the creamy, whipped frosting and in another post, I’ll show you how to make a wedding dress shower cake from the cupcakes or a baby carriage baby shower cake.

So, every time I make this cake or cupcakes, I remember my Grandmom Madeline, my Dad, Uncle Joe, and our families, and how much we share the love of food and wine! And I remember to be grateful for every day I am here.

So, Uncle Joe, this one’s for you!

Let’s Get Cookin’!

Easy Cocoa Cake Cupcakes

A delicious, chocolate cake made with Hershey's cocoa that is moist, needs no mixer, comes out perfect every time, and has no milk, butter or eggs!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chocolate, Cocoa, Cupcakes, Easy, Moist,
Servings: 12 people
Author: Madeline Kohler


  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder I use Hershey's cocoa
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsps red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • In a large bowl, gently mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa.
  • Make a hole in the center, and add the oil, vanilla and vinegar.
  • With a whisk, mix the oil mixture into the dry ingredients.
  • Slowly add in the water, mixing until all the water is absorbed and there are no lumps in the batter.
  • Line muffin tins with cupcake liners or spray cupcake pans with cooking spray.
  • Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Use a toothpick or cake tester to make certain the batter comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cupcake.
  • Let cool before icing the cake with Hershey’s Cocoa Butter Icing with my surprise little twist!

Simple Chocolate Cocoa Frosting

This Chocolate Cocoa Frosting will turn any cake or cupcakes into a masterpiece for your mouth! Cream and fluffy at the same time! And with an added twist of flavor, it makes it one of a kind! Using Hershey's Powdered, you can't go wrong.
Prep Time15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: All
Keyword: Chocolate, Cocoa, Creamy, Easy, Fluffy, Frosting, Hershey's Cocoa, Icing
Servings: 24 Cupcakes


  • Hand or Stand Mixer


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 2/3 cup powdered cocoa (I use Hershey's)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (Confectioner's sugar)
  • 1/3 cup half'n'half (whole milk works too)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Raspberry or Pomegranate Liquor (feel free to substitute orange liquor)


  • On low speed of the mixer, mix together softened butter and cocoa.
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • Alternately add powdered sugar with the half'n'half (or milk), beating until blended and no lumps remain.
  • Add the Raspberry or Pomegranate Liquor, mixing until blended.
  • Test for spreading consistency and add more half'n'half or powdered sugar as needed.

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